By Jory Proft, Senior Editor
When dealing with wellness, it’s important to think about how your well-being affects others and how others’ wellness affects you.
It’s often hard to recognize just how much someone else’s emotions rub-off on you and vice versa — especially with a significant other. Your partner walks into the room, glowing with joy and passion, and you can’t help but smile. Or they can walk into a room upset, and you start to feel upset as well.
Humans are programmed to care and empathize — which is a good thing. A romantic partner should probably be your greatest support system, but at what point does it become harmful to either project your feelings onto them or have their emotions heavily influence yours’?
I have been on both sides of a relationship where one person’s wellness is suffering and it begins to engulf their partner’s wellness as well.
In my first year away from home I attended university in Edmonton. I felt completely worthless and alone. I had no friends in Edmonton and my then-girlfriend still lived in our hometown.
I would sometimes skip full weeks of school. I would leave my apartment a complete mess. I had a total disregard for my mental, physical and financial well-being. I clung to my girlfriend and selfishly threw my every last emotion at her.
These are all clear signs of someone being unwell. And my instability was put on the shoulders of a fellow teenager instead of a professional. This took a major toll on our relationship and, rightfully so, was a major reason for its ending.
I’ve also been on the other side of that harmful behavior.
In one case, it seemed I was being relied on to be a partner’s entire world and reason for existing. She was completely dependent on me to keep her emotions in-check. I feared for weeks about what would happen when I finally broke up with her. I was her emotional-director and had to reassure her about nearly everything — I was crumbling under the pressure, but was worried that I would leave her hopeless if I ended things.
In another case, I was seeing a girl who was severely depressed and it completely controlled my well-being for months. I physically and emotionally felt exhausted most of the summer because I took on her problems and thought I could “solve” them.
Despite the hardships of those experiences, I don’t regret them because I was able to learn and develop a stronger idea of what a healthy relationship looks like, in turn, using that to develop my relationship with my current girlfriend.
I am now able to recognize how selfish and unfair it is to drain the life out of someone else because of your own emotional instability. You can’t allow your wellness to overcome your partner’s.
And if your partner’s well-being is affecting you negatively, then you need to know that it’s their feelings, not yours. You can listen, understand and empathize without taking on someone else’s issues.
Another important lesson I’ve learned is that not everyone wants to be loved and cared-for the same way you do. You can’t just “fix” someone. You should cut yourself some slack and realize that sometimes there’s nothing you can do to help someone. If your partner is not willing to take the necessary steps to work towards getting better, then you should reconsider whether you’re willing to take on their emotions or not.
This editorial predominantly focused on the power that negative energy and emotions can have on a significant other, but there’s also great power in positivity.
Both my girlfriend and I exude positivity with each other and we believe this is vital in fully appreciating life. While some people may interpret it in a negative way, both of us see the world through rose-coloured lenses sometimes — and I love it.
We both automatically feel emotionally-uplifted in each other’s presence because we both work to have some of our happiness rub-off on each other.
I honestly think of The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” everytime I see her. Her vitality and love of life projects onto me, and mine does onto her.
If you are currently in a relationship that feels unbalanced, maybe it is time to look at each partners’ wellness to see what area needs growth. Take a hard look at how you are affecting those in your life.